Councillor Ben Henderson was among a group of lawmakers calling for a deferral on deciding the fate of ONE Properties' Southpark on Whyte development until a local land use plan was finished. And his appeal has found echoing voices at Council, which has decided to postpone the rezoning matter until staff complete Plan Whyte, a document intended to guide development in the commercial corridor.
The developer wants to replace the former car dealership with a mixed-use development consisting of four buildings, including two highrise residential towers of 18 storeys along 81 Avenue. ONE Properties is also proposing multiple retail bays greeting the street and the transformation of an existing alley to a pedestrian mews.
Delaying the vote will allow Councillors to place the development within the bigger picture presented by staff when Plan Whyte is revealed. Following 18 months of study and public engagement, staff will unveil details of two height scenarios of six and 14 storeys. The proposed 18-storey buildings would top that upper limit, but the developer hopes the pedestrian-friendly streetscape combined with the development's lucrative potential to transform the neighbourhood will sway fence-sitting Councillors.
The delay also ensures the decision will be informed by a comprehensive policy, rather than making ad hoc judgments on a case-by-case basis. The rezoning application will be considered once again on March 20, giving planners a fairly short window of time to ready Plan Whyte before they present it to Councillors.
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